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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;59(6):555-60. doi: 10.1177/0020764012445259. Epub 2012 Jun 24.

Are long-term psychiatric patients causing more crisis consultations outside office hours in mental health care?

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Arkin Institute for Mental Health, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



As well as an improvement in community services, the de-institutionalization of patients receiving long-term psychiatric care can lead to marginally staffed mental health services, more homelessness, rising admission rates and more people in prison cells. It is assumed that an imbalance between community and hospital care for chronic patients puts pressure on crisis services.


In this study, the central question is whether patients receiving long-term psychiatric care in Amsterdam do indeed put pressure on the city's emergency mental health services. We compare the pressure exerted by this group with the pressure resulting from the use of these services by all registered patients.


Data were taken from the client registration systems of three mental health organizations in Amsterdam in the period from 2000 to 2004. Inclusion criteria for long-term psychiatric patients were age above 19 years and uninterrupted receipt of mental health care for a minimum of two successive years.


Annually, 6%-8% of all non-long-term patients experienced a crisis outside office hours in the period under investigation; this was 4%-6% for long-term patients. The non-long-term patients accounted for 83% of crisis contacts outside office hours over the entire study period, with long-term patients accounting for 17%.


The assumption that crises are more prevalent in long-term patients in the community seems to be an example of stigmatization rather than an observation based on fact.


Long-term psychiatric care; crisis services; de-institutionalization; psychiatry

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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